Welcome to the Fourth Dimension
Marvel’s 1976 poke at collectivism
Truth is false and logic lost
Now the fourth dimension is crossed
—“The Twilight Zone”
These days, you might expect the writers of South Park to drop a reference or two of Rush in one of their episodes. But in 1976 it was the writers at Marvel Comics, who dedicated one of their episodes of The Defenders to the band and based that episode loosely around “2112.” They also included a quote from “The Twilight Zone.”
In the comic, “Divided We Duel,” a character named the Red Rajah uses brainwashing to turn New York City into his own collectivist dictatorship. He’s thwarted by Hell Cat, Valkyrie, and the Red Guardian, three of The Defenders whose modus operandi is to come together only when they’re needed to operate as a group.
Having The Defenders come together only on an as-needed basis is hitting the individualism theme pretty hard, but no one’s ever accused comics of being subtle.
Geddy has said that, in 1976, when Rush hit the individualism theme pretty hard in “2112,” they were responding to the pressure from music executives to come out with a record that would play well on the radio.
“‘2112’ was really a reaction to that whole period and probably why we struck out for individualism on that record,” he told Sounds in a 1983 interview.
In the comic, a likeness of Dr. Strange, who’s one of The Defenders himself, emerges from the ground and says ominously, “Truth is false and logic lost! Obey the Rajah—he seeks universal peace at any cost!”
The first part of the line, “truth is false and logic lost,” is from Rush’s “The Twilight Zone,” and aptly sums up the kind of contradiction at the core of any form of collectivist enterprise: a collective succeeds or fails on the strength of its individual members, so success can only come as a betrayal of its core principle.
With that as your logic, then seeking “universal peace at any cost,” as Dr. Strange then says, makes perfect sense.
Welcome to the fourth dimension.
Thanks to John at Cygnus-X1 for making The Defenders comic available.
“We were traveling overnight to a gig in Atlanta,” Geddy says in an interview in Sounds from several years back. “We were so bluesed out that we thought, ‘What’s the point? Let’s give up and go home.’ But we said, ‘Before we make this decision let’s not see each other for three days and think about it.’ So outside of the gig we didn’t see or talk to each other. Then we got back together and just said, ‘F–k these people! There’s no reason for us to quit just because these people are bummed out. It doesn’t change the reasons we’re here’. And ‘2112’ was really a reaction to that whole period and probably why we struck out for individualism on that record was because of the pressure to conform.”